Mrs Irwin’s Year 12 Standard English class recently attended an HSC Symposium for Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences at the University of New South Wales’ Seymour Centre.
The HSC Symposium Series offers essential opportunities to deepen student’s practical understanding through experiencing and analysing key scenes and characters in performance.
Lecture and scene work were interspersed with expert commentary from the Director of ‘The Crucible’ productions, Damien Ryan and his team, while they explored famous scenes and speeches in multiple ways, opened up diverse critical readings and unlocked language and character. The actors discussed the plays’ famous ambiguities and challenges and answered students’ questions.
Here are some student reflections of their experience:
“I found the in depth analysis of some of the characters and how their experiences have shaped who they are very useful and it gave me an insight into how the characters worked.”
“It was a lot more informative than I thought it would be, actually being able to understand the meaning of the play through the eyes of the director and also being able to hear what the actors had to say enhanced my depth of knowledge.”
“My expectations were turned upside down … the director was able to actually outline the HSC rubric and how the play correlates closely to it.”
“He [the director] explained the way in which Arthur Miller wrote the play. I love the way in which he designed the stage and how each piece of the prop was there to show the meaning of ‘The Crucible’.”
“I loved the way in which at the beginning he [the director] related the play to a tragedy and explained that the actual play is not a tragedy for the characters but allows us to make our own moral decision, that we embark on a journey to decide what we would have done in that situation.”
“Stage directions were written to be a live experience. We love to watch suffering, it intrigues us. It allows us to explore what it means to be human. It makes us feel pity and sadness. Suffering is the path to wisdom.”
“All tragedy is about two equally ethical claims – having a moral compass – making very difficult decisions – not about good and evil.”
“A crucible – used in an experiment where the impurities are burned away – characters undergo a severe trial – you had to confess everything you did as a Puritan. This play shows what happens when people hide their inner private thought life more and more until eventually, they will explode like a giant blister.”